Steven E. Brown
Co-Founder, Institute on Disability Culture
© All Rights Reserved, Institute on Disability Culture, Oct. 4, 2015
A few weeks from now I have a birthday. A few weeks ago I had a scary health experience, ending up for a few hours in the Emergency Room. I’ve been making the rounds of quite a few medical appointments since then. This morning I read that one of my former colleagues is in Hospice. She’s been battling cancer for many years and has done some amazing healing work in this process.
I’ve been thinking for some time—years--about how I can combine my passion for healing work with my passion for Disability Culture. I’ve addressed how I arrived at this path, most clearly articulated so far in Surprised to be Standing: A Spiritual Journey, and I hope to continue moving forward with this topic.
A couple of weeks ago, Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project, in concert with the National Council on Disability, conducted an enlightening Twitter chat on emergency management preparation. We know this is different for individuals with disabilities than others for numerous reasons, including simple logistics. Three examples (from many that could be listed): 1. Many of us cannot bound down-or up-stairs; 2. Consistently get the medications we may need; or 3. Have any way to get far from disasters without the ability to use accessible transportation. A list could go on and on...
My piles of reading are increasing, even as I move through them. I recently had the pleasure of reading Eli Clare’s just re-published, Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation. In it, he wrote:
“Pride works in direct opposition to internalized oppression. The latter provides fertile ground for shame, denial, self-hatred, and fear. The former encourages anger, strength, and joy. To transform self-hatred into pride is a fundamental act of resistance” (p. 109).
Oppression is intertwined in the way disaster preparation has historically failed to include individuals with disabilities. Hopefully, this is in the process of changing as indicated by the above Twitter chat, but there is still a long way to go, as also narrated in this chat. Examples of pride will help both emergency managers and us--people with disabilities and our families and allies--to understand we need to be included in these conversations, plans, and activities, such as preparation drills.
Some other examples of disability pride are below:
While I’m no longer a co-chair of the “Chronic Disease and Disability” section of the Western Social Science Association (WSSA), the pre-cursor of the Society for Disability Studies, I am happy to pass along information about the 2016 conference, which can be found at: http://www.wssaweb.com/sections.html. In the past few years, the WSSA has been extremely accommodating for those who present via Skype and I encourage those who can do this to take advantage of the opportunity. Abstracts are due Dec. 1, 2015.
I am continuing to Chair the Disability Studies topic area for the 2016 Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity, which is entitled, Disability Studies: Exploring the Margins from the Center and the Center from the Margins. Proposals are due Dec. 17, 2015. The conference will be held April 25-26, 2016 in Honolulu. There are many other great topic areas as well and everything about the conference is posted at: www.pacrim.hawaii.edu.
I conclude with notes of two of my recent publications: 1). A biography of Ed Roberts aimed at fifth and sixth graders, Ed Roberts: Wheelchair Genius and 2). An article, "Disability Culture and the ADA", in Disability Studies Quarterly, which continues my own contributions to celebrating the 25th anniversary year of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and to continuing #PromotingDisabilityPride.
Comments always welcome.